Keane to trim Sunderland squad in January

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The Independent Online

Sunderland boss Roy Keane has admitted he will be looking to offload players rather than make signings during the January transfer window.

The 37-year-old, who will take charge of his 100th game when Bolton visit the Stadium of Light tomorrow, has invested approaching £80m in his squad since arriving on Wearside in August 2006.

Keane has been backed handsomely by chairman Niall Quinn's Drumaville consortium, but currently has no fewer than 11 players out on loan with a 12th, Carlos Edwards, having been recalled from Wolves just last week and a 13th, Russell Anderson, recovering from a serious injury sustained during his spell at Burnley.

Nine of those men - Michael Chopra, Greg Halford, Anthony Stokes, Paul McShane, Ross Wallace, Roy O'Donovan, Graham Kavanagh, Edwards and Anderson - were signed by the Irishman, and he knows he cannot keep them all happy.

Keane, who himself is yet to agree a new contract, will move to reduce the size of his squad - and therefore, a spiralling wage bill - in January, but insists he is not under pressure from the boardroom to do so.

He said: "I will discuss that with the board every now and then. I am not daft, I understand the football side of it in terms of me having players.

"Everything I have asked for since I have been at the club, I have had it.

"But there comes a point where you say enough dealing is done. The only dealing, I feel, in January at this club will be players going out.

"But no, I don't feel under pressure from board level, that's just my own thoughts on the club and my own thoughts on football and the size of your club.

"You can have too many players at your club, without a shadow of a doubt.

"If anything, the mistake I have made as a manager is maybe bringing too many players into the football club.

"We need to balance the books, so any kind of activity come January will be players going out, no doubt."

McShane in particular has started to rebuild his reputation at Hull and with the Republic of Ireland, while Chopra, a £5million signing from Cardiff in the summer of last year, will hope to do the same back in South Wales, and they could be in demand.

However, Keane admits the number of departures will depend upon the interest levels in those players he makes available.

He said: "I wouldn't have an exact number, but there are three or four players there who you think need to go and get some games.

"It is very easy for me to sit here and say a few players have to move on because they are very good players, but they are just not getting a chance.

"Until someone picks up the phone, they are going to be sitting here anyway."

Recent results - Sunderland have won just two of their past nine league games - have left some fans questioning Keane's signings, but he remains defiant.

He said: "I am not beating myself up about it, but maybe sometimes you try too much, too soon in terms of bringing the numbers in because it does take time to try to build a team and to get them to gel together.

"It's very hard when every transfer window, you are bringing seven, eight players together."

Keane will reach a century at the helm tomorrow, but still considers himself a junior member of the managers' club.

He said: "Listen, nobody said it was going to be easy. A hundred games - you look at other managers who have got 1100, 1200, 1300 games.

"I am 37 years of age in my first job. It's been tough - but I didn't think for one minute it would be easy."

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